Eloping in Asheville, NC can be a truly magical experience. With its breathtaking mountain views, charming downtown area, and overall abundance of natural beauty, Asheville is the perfect destination for couples looking to escape the hustle and bustle of traditional wedding planning. And as a local, I'm here to hook you up with all there is to know about planning your elopement so that you can feel as stress-free as possible.
So with that being said- Here is your complete guide to having an Asheville elopement!
Best Time to Elope in Asheville, NC:
The best time to elope in Asheville, NC is a no-brainer- it's in the fall (September-November). A close second is Spring (March-May). During these seasons, the weather is mild, and the foliage is breathtaking, making for stunning backdrops for your elopement photos. However, Asheville is beautiful year-round, so if you have your heart set on a winter or summer elopement, you can still find plenty of beautiful locations and accommodations. The Blue Ridge Mountains are extra "blue" during late spring and summer. So if that's an important reason for date planning, then take that into consideration!
Possible Elopement Locations:
Asheville is home to a variety of beautiful elopement locations, including:
1. Buncombe County Courthouse - A classic and historic option, and an easy one if you are wanting something easy and flexible that still packs a punch for photos.
2. Asheville Botanical Gardens- A very popular spot for outdoor wedding photos or small ceremonies not far from downtown Asheville. It only costs around $250 which is another plus!
3. The Blue Ridge Parkway - A scenic drive with numerous easy access overlooks and hiking trails. However, for this one, you'll need a proper permit which we will talk about further down.
4. The North Carolina Arboretum - A STUNNING botanical garden with a variety of outdoor spaces for elopements. If you are interested in being surrounded by nature without the stress of hiking or losing service, this is a great option.
5. Looking Glass Falls- Maybe you want to opt for something a little more unique but still embracing nature in full-force. Looking Glass Falls is a very easily accessible waterfall that is truly breathtaking.
Necessary Permits for Blue Ridge Parkway Elopements:
If you are planning to elope in a public park or other outdoor location, you will need to obtain a Special Use Permit from the city or county. You absolutely must send this request in AT LEAST 30 days before the date you are considering for your elopement. There is a $40 permit fee that comes along with this as well. This is completely necessary, and you must have a permit to exchange vows on certain locations. The NPS has a full list of what locations need permission. You can find those listed here: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/wedding-permits.htm
National Park Service Rules and Regulations For Elopements
Asheville is home to many hiking trails and so many stunning overlooks. Most importantly, you must follow the rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Here are some general rules for eloping in the Blue Ridge Mountains:
1. Leave no trace: You must absolutely leave no trace. This is a huge motto from the NPS and it is solely to protect the gorgeous mountains and allow them to thrive even through human interaction. This means you clean up properly after yourself and respect the list of off limit items listed on their website. So what exactly is considered off limits?
2. Disrespecting Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife, and do not feed or approach animals. Remember that you are a guest in their habitat. This also means that food is strictly prohibited on the trails and overlooks.
3. NO LIVE FLOWERS OR BOUQUETS: This one is far too overlooked. I see it all the time on Instagram, brides bring their live floral bouquets into National Park properties and it is extremely prohibited. Live flowers can bring bugs or seeds into the ecosystem and that can cause long-term damage to our gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains.
4. Follow leash laws: If you are bringing your sweet little pup with you, don't forget to keep him on a leash or harness the entire time. You may want to have a delegated person to keep his leash in hand so you all won't have to worry about it.
5. No Bluetooth Speakers: It's definitely common for couples to want to bring a speaker to play processional music but unfortunately, it isn't allowed.
Some specific trails may have additional rules or regulations, so be sure to check signs and trail maps for more information or do your research online beforehand. And don't be afraid to reach out to your photographer who has likely been there before and can help you with the process.
I know, I know. So many rules (and many more that I didn't list!). But as a local photographer, my number one goal is to protect our city and wildlife while also giving my clients a fantastic experience. I can assure you that both things can coexist!
Event Spaces that Cater to Elopements:
If you prefer an indoor elopement or reception at a larger scale venue (i.e you are having more than 4 guests or don't feel like hiking, etc.), Asheville has a variety of event spaces that cater to these type of events. These are a few that all have completely different vibes based on what you and your partner are envisioning for your own day:
1. The Venue - A downtown Asheville event space with a rustic, industrial feel. The cater to all shapes and sizes of weddings and elopements and have a great in-house planning team that takes care of everything.
2. The Glass Box - A more modern event space with floor-to-ceiling windows and stunning views of downtown Asheville.
3. The Ridge - A jaw dropping outdoor event space with mountain views and a rustic feel if you are going for something more along those lines.
4. Engaged Asheville- This space is a gorgeous, modern event space that is small and perfect for having a Pinterestesque elopement. It's indoors, so you won't have to consider weather as a stressor. They also take care of all of the planning and vendor coordinating.
Okay, you've decided on where you want to exchange vows, now you just need to make accommodations for you and your partner as well as any out of town guests who are coming in for the ceremony. Asheville has a variety of accommodations to suit any budget or preference, including:
1. The Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville - A luxurious hotel located in the heart of downtown Asheville making it so easy to access the best restaurants and live events in town. Highly recommend!
2. The Biltmore Estate - Biltmore offers a variety of accommodations, including the Inn on Biltmore Estate and Village Hotel. It's a really good option if you have a higher budget and want to stay in the grounds for most of your stay. There are plenty of things to do right in the Estate including shopping, restaurants and events.
3. The Omni Grove Park Inn - A historic hotel with stunning mountain views and luxurious amenities. It has an incredible spa that you can access as a guest as well as some awesome food options inside the hotel. And although certainly luxurious, the price is shockingly more affordable than that of Biltmore.
4. Airbnb or VRBO- A popular option for couples looking for a more intimate and unique lodging experience. These tend to lean more towards a cabin vibe, but if you are lucky to snag a more luxury one, it comes at a price. Tip: don't forget to really read the reviews and house rules before booking these.